Now that the school holidays have begun, you’ll be needing some ideas on how to keep children entertained this Christmas. As luck would have it we’ve done all the hard work for you and come up with these Oxfordshire gems to keep them amused, in a safe and socially distanced manner of course.
1)Heidi and the Snow Globe, until February 28, for children aged 3-7 years. Wild Boor’s online Christmas show is a wonderfully wintery, online theatrical adventure set in the snowy Alps, filled with heart, humour and the resilience of a girl who has an important job to do! It features Heidi whose mind is as swirly as a snow-globe! Her mother is ill and has asked her to fetch edelweiss from the top of the mountain to make her medicine. How will she face her fears (who take the form of three grumpy goats) and conquer blizzards, avalanches and a hungry wolf? Created in partnership with the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building. Watch the full 50-minute show in one sitting, or in five episodes, each with its own puppet workshops. www.wildboorshows.com
2) Margot’s Magical Winter Wonder Party’ for 4–8 year olds from December 18 – 27. Pegasus Theatre presents the award-winning Filskit Theatre’s online Christmas treat. The story recaps the lost events of 2020 and seizes the opportunity to put all those missed moments into one mega party. Using physical comedy, original music, magical lights and puppetry, this special performance will shake off the frustrations of 2020 so we can celebrate from the safety of our screens.” http://www.pegasustheatre.org.uk
3) Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, Oxford Playhouse, until Thursday 24 December, for under 8s (book by Tuesday 22 December). Watch Briggs’ grumpy but loveable Father Christmas, adapted by Pins and Needles, from the comfort of your home, as he gets ready for his busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve. Preparing his Christmas deliveries, feeding his reindeer and finally taking flight into the snowy night, this digital performance is full of merry touches with plenty of live music, songs and playful puppetry. Tickets at www.oxfordplayhouse.com
4) Korky Paul at The North Wall until Dec 23. The legendary, local children’s illustrator brings his classic Winnie The Witch adventures to the Summertown arts centre, which are available for sale. Pictures are installed at children’s height so the whole family can enjoy the tour. https://www.thenorthwall.com/whats-on/korky-paul-winnie-and-wilburs-magical-moments/
5) Festive Family Open Days at the Science Oxford Centre: December 29-31. There’s Christmas cheer a-plenty in the amazing hands-on Exploration Zone where families can try to beat the super-fast Scarf Shooter challenge, spin discs at the Turntable or discover nature under the microscope. Creating a festive optical illusion or make your own spinning ‘Thaumatrope’ to take home. Have a blast designing and testing flying crafty ‘fireworks’ at the Air Table to celebrate the new year.
Bring your wellies, get some fresh air and your brains buzzing with the Big Science Quiz 2020! 12 Days of Christmas clues have been hidden in the woodland, with exciting science questions and highlights from this most unusual year to crack. Don’t forget the woodland trail map, and see if you can spot a festive Robin, Holly and the Ivy – or even a fleeting glimpse of our resident Rudolph and his furry friends amongst the trees. For age 6+. Book in bubbles of up to 6 at https://scienceoxford.com/events/
6) Blenheim Christmas Lights, until January 10, is very family friendly as ever. As well as being transfixed by the million plus lights en route, the carousel and helter-skelter are still in the courtyard, and amidst the Illuminated Trail itself you might even find Father Christmas ready for some socially distanced photographs. https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/lights-trail/
7) Creation’s Wizard Of Oz, 19 Dec – 3 Jan – Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Oxford’s most innovative theatre company’s festive offering, and this year it doesn’t disappoint with a stunning digital rendition of The Wizard Of Oz performed live every night so you can watch it with loved ones around the country and the world. Book your tickets at https://www.creationtheatre.co.uk
8) Suddenly a Star, The Story Museum, from 18 December to 3 January, 5+. A live magical show for families in the new Wood Shed Theatre which open to the public for the first time in socially-distanced household groups.
The show revolves around an adult son who moves back in with his mother. They share traditional Christmas tales featuring donkeys, wishes, cunning mice and clever grandparents. Weaving together a constellation of stories old and new, the show uses music and song from rock to disco to explore how a star can suddenly appear when it’s least expected. With gentle humour and a big dollop of family squabbles (it is Christmas, after all), Audience members aged 11+ will be required to wear masks during the performance. Book at http://www.storymuseum.org.uk or 01865 807600
9) A Christmas Carol – The Theatre Chipping Norton – until Dec 24, best suited for those aged 7+. Simon Callow’s acclaimed one-man adaptation is the ultimate classic Christmas tale which has been performed in the West End.
Based on Charles Dickens’ own one-man readings of the story, this moving, captivating stage version, goes straight to the heart of an all-time literary classic. Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and a trio of ghosts will perform the festive story, with famous actor David Bradley playing Scrooge. https://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/whats-on/a-christmas-carol
10) Sammy and the Beanstalk – Saturday 19 December to Sunday 3 January. 7+. Oxford Playhouse has teamed up with Olivier Award-winning OperaUpClose to present a fun, spooky and contemporary Christmas story, told from the perspective of 8-year-old Sammy. This new, urban, fairy tale is one of bravery and kindness, which also tackles the isolation we’ve all experienced over the past few months. Inspiration has been drawn from classic winter tales, both cosy and gothic, as well as opera, theatre and film to create a thrilling story-telling experience, in a wonderfully intimate setting. The question is, can Sammy release Dad from his illness in time to make Mum’s present with her, before Mum gets home for Christmas? Book at www.oxfordplayhouse.com
11) Carols by Candlelight – Sunday December 20, 6pm, University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford. The carol service at the University Church is always a popular event. This year, due to numbers in the church having to be limited you can still enjoy a traditional celebration of the Christmas story by candlelight, with music by the University Church Choir to support local homeless charities The Gatehouse, The Porch and Oxford Winter Night Shelter. http://www.universitychurch.ox.ac.uk/content/upcoming-services
12) Little Gift, The North Wall from Dec 19– 23 for ages 3-7. M6 Theatre tell the story of Ted, a lonely old soul, living all alone in the big city. One morning his life is changed forever when a mysterious helping hand steps in and disrupts his quiet routine. A heart-warming mix of puppetry, live music and song. The North Wall auditorium has been transformed to allow for social-distancing, with each family having plenty of space to sit in separate family bubbles. Book on 01865 319450 or visit www.thenorthwall.com
Following fun instructional videos sent to you when you book, you’ll make props and table-top sets from recycled materials and household objects, invent your own sensory sessions and take a creative-play journey together through a garden of delights. The music, songs and narration are also included so you can tell the story. Book at www.oxfordplayhouse.com